Can effective writing be entertaining?

When I was young, I loved arguing. I was never a child who threw tantrums in stores. Instead, I would thoroughly work over my mother with a series of logical arguments on why I just absolutely had to own whatever new toy I had my eye on.   I already had pre-crafted counterarguments for every protest my mother could muster.  I understood, at a young age, the value and power of logic and persuasion.  In the end, I think my mother probably would have preferred screaming tantrums.

This is closely tied to both my reading and writing.  Am I persuaded?  Is whatever I’m reading persuading me to feel whatever it happens to want me to feel?  Is what I’m writing persuasively arguing what I want?  Understanding how to form a well-constructed argument is at the root of effective writing.

Alright, that’s what academic Vanessa thinks.  However, there’s also another facet to writing and reading: entertainment.  Sure, you could argue that ultimately the goal of all writing is to persuade a reader of something (even if that something is just being entertained).  But it’s more complex than that.  For instance, I love autobiographical graphic novels that acknowledge the idiosyncrasies of life and humanity.  These are definitely not traditional persuasive writing.   Down to earth writing that uses humor (usually dark humor) to convey a powerful truth about humanity (a la Kurt Vonnegut) is what I choose to read.

Me too, Jeffrey Brown.

Me too, Jeffrey Brown.

But there’s a beautiful fusion between persuasive argument and entertainment that can occur.  This is where my end-goal in writing lies (and where I wish more academic writing went).  Humor is so often the most powerful way to make a point and persuade an audience.  Through my reading, I realize that my long-term goal as a writer isn’t just to persuade—it is also to entertain.

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